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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Fed minutes, Mulally stays at Ford, China coal plants, childhood amnesia

By Newley Purnell

What to watch for today

The rationale behind the taper. The US Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its December meeting, in which it surprised the markets by announcing that it will start to unwind its massive bond-buying program.

A euro zone data dump. Several important economic indicators come out, including data on employment and retail sales in the region, as well as the trade balance and factory orders for the bloc’s largest country, Germany.

An early read on US jobs. Analysts expect the private-sector payroll survey from recruitment firm ADP to show that the US added 200,000 new jobs in December, down from 215,000 in November. Although the official jobs data on Friday is more important, ADP’s survey was pretty close last month.

Event: Talking tech in 2014. Quartz technology editor Christopher Mims, Re/code co-executive editor Kara Swisher, and Wall Street Journal columnist Farhad Manjoo hold a live video discussion on the outlook for technology in 2014 at 1pm ET.

While you were sleeping

Mulally rules out Microsoft CEO job. The Ford chief executive took himself out of the running to replace Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. Remaining candidates on the shortlist include former Microsoft boss Stephen Elop. 

A US helicopter crashed in the UK. Four Air Force crew members are believed to have perished when their HH-60G Pave Hawk went down during a training operation about 130 miles from London.

Robert Gates criticized Obama. In a new memoir, the former defense secretary says the president became disillusioned with the country’s Afghanistan strategy. “For him, it’s all about getting out,” Gates wrote.

China will open some telecoms services… Beijing will permit foreign investment in seven telecoms value added services—like app stores, call centers, and home Internet access—in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

…And a whole bunch of coal-powered power plants. Authorities approved construction of more than 100 million tonnes (110 million tons) of new coal production capacity this year, despite choking pollution in many of its cities.

Tiger Airways is selling its Philippines business. The Singapore-based airline is offloading its 40% stake in its Philippine arm to Cebu Air, the country’s biggest budget carrier, for $6 million.

Aereo got $34 million in new funding. The Barry Diller-backed service that provides TV access over the web will use the money, which came from existing and new investors, to expand beyond its current 10 metropolitan areas and develop new apps.

The US deep freeze deepened. Record cold temperatures broke records across a huge swathe of the country, disrupting travel and pushing up energy prices.

Quartz obsession interlude Leo Mirani on how an aging bureaucrat in a small town in Ireland found himself safeguarding a billion people’s privacy. “Every morning, the man in charge of overseeing how [technology] companies use our data cycles to Heuston station, takes a 50-minute train ride out of Dublin, and walks the last five minutes to his office next to a convenience store in Portarlington, a town of some 7,500 people in the Irish midlands. It is an unlikely place for what has grown to become one of the most important offices in global privacy.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The NSA nearly killed the Internet. Edward Snowden’s revelations about US surveillance sent tech behemoths like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft into a panic as they tried to salvage users’ trust.

Company wellness programs might be a waste of money. But that doesn’t necessarily mean companies shouldn’t have them.

Women are not welcome on the internet. The sheer volume of harassment online is far more than law enforcement agencies can deal with.

Business schools are unethical. They gouge students, underpay teachers, and don’t delivery on their promises.

Surprising discoveries

Childhood amnesia is universal. Young children can recall events from their early years, but memories begin to fade around the age of seven.

Mimes have moved on. The world’s longest-running mime festival opens in London today, and features nothing like what you’d expect.

Draught beer is cheapest in China. In Guangzhou, a pour will set you back the equivalent of $0.36.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, cheap beer tips, and top mime moves to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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